“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . . For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. . . . But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. . . . that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”. . . There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. . . . Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-13, 8:1-2, 8:23-25.
It occurred to me this week that if I’m going to take up the challenge of doing a Bible study and message each week, I needed to start at the beginning. You have to have a beginning point to start any journey, and if you’re going to build a house, you start with a good foundation.
In this case, our starting point must be with Christianity, or how to become a Christian. I know it has become something of a cliché, but it is absolutely true that Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship.
A relationship with Almighty God, the Creator of all that is. And that is the most important aspect of existence in the world. If you don’t have that relationship correct, nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing else matters.
The scripture verses I placed at the beginning of this post are what we call the Roman Road. They give a synopsis of man’s sin problem, the reason he needs a right relationship with God, and how he can obtain that relationship, how he can be saved from his sin and destruction.
So, to explain that relationship, let’s begin our journey by going back to the beginning and walking through the background of each step.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. Genesis 3:6-7.
God created a perfect world, including the first two humans, Adam and Eve. He placed them in the garden of Eden where they had everything they needed. But they chose to disobey God and sinned by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God warned them they would die if they sinned, and they did, spiritually immediately and physically sometime later. Because of this, all of their descendants inherited a sin nature from birth. This means each of us is born spiritually dead and one day will also die physically. That is unavoidable. No knowledge or scientific method of man will ever stop death.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15.
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6.
Mankind was without hope. But God had another plan. He would send His Son Jesus, part of the Godhead Himself, to die in man’s place and pay his sin debt.
Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary. He lived a perfect, sinless life. And when the time was right, He was crucified on a Roman cross. His death paid the price for all men for all time. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
As all men used to do, He went to Hades, the place of the dead. But because He is God and has power over sin and death, He was able to rise again on the third day. He freed the captives of Hades who trusted in Him, and now when people die, those who trust in Him go directly to heaven to be with Him.
“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13.
“And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:6.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.
Since Jesus paid the price for our sin, and since man can do nothing to pay that price on his own, the way for man to be saved is to simply ask Jesus to apply His salvation to our account. That makes salvation a gift of grace, something that is totally undeserved and cannot be acquired any other way.
And since we weren’t there when Jesus died and rose again, nor can we see Him at the moment, we accept that He will keep His word and save us if we ask Him. That’s faith, that’s trust in Him.
The process runs like this: we recognize we have sinned and cannot save ourselves, we see and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who lived a sinless life and died for our sins, then we repent of those sins and ask Jesus to save us, believing He will do all He promised.
That’s it. That’s all there is to it. You don’t have to do certain good deeds, you don’t have to be a member of a particular church, you don’t have to live a perfect life or even clean yourself up. You just have to trust Jesus enough to ask Him. After that, He’ll do any cleaning you need doing.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2.
“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Romans 8:9-10.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16.
“By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” 1 John 4:13.
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13.
Salvation raises two very important questions. Can we know that we are saved, and is it possible to lose our salvation? The quick answers are yes, and no.
When we receive Christ’s gift of salvation, He comes to live inside of us through the Holy Spirit. It is not only to seal the relationship we have with Him and provide His strength and resources to live the Christian life, it is also our guarantee that we will someday be with Him.
And His Spirit inside of us reminds us He is there by helping us understand His word, the Bible. The Bible is spiritually discerned, meaning only those who have the Holy Spirit can make it make sense. It is foolishness to all others. That’s not to say that you automatically understand everything in the Bible once you are saved, but through study and the Spirit’s help, you will learn and grow.
What about losing that relationship? Well, that’s where semantics comes into play. It is not proper to say we have salvation, but instead that we are saved. I say that because salvation is a state of being, not something you possess.
Yes, we receive salvation from Christ, but the gift isn’t something you hold in your hand, it is transformation. Something that happens to you to change you into something else. The Bible says you have become a new creature.
The best analogy is to consider a caterpillar. Once the caterpillar goes through metamorphosis, it comes out a butterfly. It isn’t just a caterpillar holding its new wings in its hands, it has been transformed into another creature. And having been transformed, it can’t go back to being a caterpillar.
That is salvation. Christ enters our souls and rebirths our spirits which have been dead since birth. He makes us new creatures. This is where we get the phrase born again.
“Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:23-25.
I don’t know if these last verses are usually included with the Roman Road, but I like to share them. Salvation doesn’t stop with just saving our souls and rebirthing our spirits. It also promises that one day our physical bodies will be transformed.
Just like Adam and Eve cursed all of mankind to have a sin nature which causes our bodies to age and eventually die, Christ will one day transform us by removing the sin nature and rejuvenating our bodies. We will be brought back to what God intended for us originally. That is His promise and our hope.
One last thing I want to cover. I mentioned earlier regarding the definition of Christianity, that it is not a religion, but a relationship. And I’ve shown by scripture that is true. But I continue to see many people who never understand that.
They continue to think that joining a particular church, or behaving a certain way, or following a creed or set of rules makes you a Christian. Much like paying your dues and following a set of bylaws makes you a member of the Lions club or Kiwanis Club. They seem to understand it involves a change in personal behavior, but they believe they can do that by following the rules and just “turning over a new leaf.”
But as we’ve seen by scripture, salvation isn’t something we do. It is totally and absolutely a transformation that can only be done by Christ Jesus Himself. And once you truly become a Christian, you can never be anything else.
I realize this was twice as long as my normal posts, but its message is of paramount importance. And it was fitting that I take the time to share the basis for all I write about. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Thanks for reading!
Do you know Jesus? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? According to scripture, all anyone must do is recognize their sin condition, realize that Christ died to pay for that sin, and ask Him to save them from it. Salvation is a gift of grace we receive by faith. Meet Him today! Contact me at email@example.com if you need more information.
Thanks for stopping by! Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think!
2 thoughts on “Do You Know Where To Start?”
I’ve labored for a number of years, trying to think of words that would communicate aspects of the Xian faith to the modern unbeliever. So many words like “sin,” and “salvation,” etc. have come to have only religious use for many, and they fail to connect (except in a negative way) with moderns. Any insights on how you handle that?
Don’t worry about the vocabulary. While you might want to adjust some words when you’re dealing with a crowd or blogging to unbelievers, when you’re talking to individuals or small groups, just be plain and simple. If someone says something about some word or phrase you used, expound on it a bit.
The point is, when people are interested in what you’re saying, they’ll work with you on the meaning of terms and ask questions. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to be everything to all people all the time.
I considered the words I used in this post and made sure I completed them. For instance, when I talked about being saved, I went ahead and told what someone is being saved from. But I used them. I considered some adjustments, but I believe God will move the ones interested to ask if they need me to explain further.
Thanks for reading!